Tag Archives: parent education

It’s a matter of priorities

by Pat Simpson

After I broke my wrist recently, my doctor sent me to physical therapy to regain motion, flexibility and strength. Sometimes I laugh at the simplicity of the “toys” the therapists use, but under their trained guidance, these simple activities are allowing me to use my wrist again.

The dry bean transfer

Roll 'em up, roll 'em down

Clay pull

“This reminds me of the activities Parents as Teachers parent educators bring to parents,” I told the therapists. They’re simple things most people have at home, and under the guidance of a trained parent educator, parents learn how and why everyday things like clothespins, empty boxes, and paper towel tubes can be used to help their young children develop physical and intellectual skills.

The big difference? Everyone recognizes the value of physical therapy. In my case, either I can open a doorknob or turn the car key or I can’t. In the case of Parents as Teachers services, well, everyone knows how to parent, don’t they?

Truth be told, a large percentage of the families we serve now need parent education. The problem is that too many legislators and decision makers don’t see parent education as essential as physical therapy. Maybe it’s because there’s no immediate payoff. My progress is visible and significant after just a few weeks; with an infant the payback isn’t quite so swift.

Do I need a fully functioning wrist? You bet!

Doesn’t every child need to learn, grow and develop to his full potential?


Of pizza and Parents as Teachers

A while back I blogged about a “wonderful Parents as Teachers weekend” where I learned over pizza with my mother-in-law, Deb, about the successful establishment of the first Parents as Teachers  program in Wilson County, Tenn.  

Our casual conversation over 4 years ago about the work we both do with children and teen parents (I at the National Center here in St. Louis and she at YouthLinks in Wilson County, Tenn.) flowered into a fabulous collaboration between four different agencies that found a way to mesh together their multiple programs and philosophies to serve the families in their community. The agencies involved are the Lebanon Special School District, Wilson County Schools, Prospect, Inc., and the University of Tennessee Extension, Wilson County

On a recent visit to Nashville in March, Deb proudly handed me a DVD that the program developed for recruitment … I couldn’t help but share!

More recently, upon editing our registration mailer this week for the Parents as Teachers Conference (slated for November) I was pleased to see that Shelly Barnes from the University of Tennessee Extension will be presenting about their unique Parents as Teachers collaboration.  I’ll definitely be in attendance, so Shelly …  see you there!

What advice would you give?

Everyone seems to have advice for the president-elect; Parents as Teachers National Center is no exception (see previous posts here).


But Maffitt McDonald, a freshman at McCluer High School in St. Louis, had some especially perceptive insight recently. He was one of the finalists in an essay contest for high school students sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, STLtoday.com and Lindenwood University. Students were asked to write about what they would change if they were president, and while most suggested the economy, health care reform, energy consumption, Maffitt wrote a particularly articulate argument to focus the nation’s efforts on education above all else.


“If the public is uneducated, they make bad decisions which will have a large impact on the economic status of America,” he writes. He offers the president-elect a three-point plan: implement a huge media campaign; require high school diplomas for employment; and offer parenting classes to teach children how to be good parents.


Listen to all the finalists read their essays (Maffitt’s essay begins about a minute into the video), then let us know what you think the new president should do first.

What’s Parents as Teachers and how do I get it?

Fox2 anchor Margie Ellisor knows the benefits of having a Parents as Teachers parent educator. She participates in Rockwood School District’s Parents as Teachers program where her parent educator, Amy, guides, models and coaches Margie and her husband as they parent their three kids.

When I talked to Margie recently, she was surprised that so many young parents still don’t know about this free program. So we arranged for her to talk to Donna Hunt O’Brien, an early childhood specialist here, to explain why even news anchors like Margie can benefit from Parents as Teachers. Watch the segment and see for yourself.

As for signing up, call your local school district in Missouri. (For St. Louis Public Schools, the largest school district in the area, call 314-771-4626.) Outside Missouri call 1-866-PAT4YOU (1-866-728-4968) and we’ll hook you up locally!

A parent educator tells her story

I work in the National Center for Parents as Teachers, but the real work of this organization is done locally by thousands of parent educators working with hundreds of thousands of families across the nation. Here’s what one of them had to say as she told her story in StoryFront

“I have been a Parents as Teachers program employee for over 13 years. Presently, I am a Lead Parent Educator. In this role, I am assigned a “team” of parent educators that I mentor and support. My “real job” is working with families at my own assigned school site.

“My families strive to be the best that they can. I love having the opportunity to become part of my families as their parent educator, or as they refer to me, “la maestra” (the teacher). I used to try to tell them that I was not a teacher, but finally gave up. It is with great respect and affection that they use the term. When my children progress to pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, the early childhood staff recognizes and values the difference their Parents as Teachrs participation makes in school readiness. They all seem to have an edge on many skills that other children do not as they enter school. I have great pride in the hard work of my families to reach those milestones.

“Aside from working with their children and supporting their development, I promote parent involvement and strong participation in their children’s education. My parents join the school’s parent groups and are in the school often. This year, our school principal has recognized that her Parents as Teachers parents are a great resource for school staff as positions become available. Two parents have been hired as a PK classroom instructional assistant and a parent liaison. Ms. Williams acknowledges that their contributions as school volunteers, supportive parents, and education advocates make them perfect candidates. Everyone wins as the parents take their place within our school staff family! I have added to this to the list of ways that my families make me proud. I am truly proud to be a parent educator!” Signed, Dolores

If you have a story to tell, please share it on our Web site by clicking on the StoryFront icon at the bottom of the page.